There are two significant historical museums in Oregon City. These are the End of the Oregon Trail museum near Interstate 205 and Washington Street, and the other is the much lesser known Museum of the Oregon Territory. The unfortunate problem is that the Museum of the Oregon Territory is actually the better of the two museums, as far as I am concerned.
This museum covers everything from the early settlers and early documents that started the state all the way up to modern events, such as pioneering efforts to harness electricity from Willamette Falls.
The book store has a number of items relating to early Oregon including post cards. It isn't as good as the store operated by Oregon Historical Society in Portland, but this museum only has a small fraction of the OHS memership!
The third floor of the museum sometimes hosts events. For example, in the photo you will notice an advertisement for an artists event. The third floor has one of the best views of Willamette Falls from either side of the river.
If you are a little adventurous, cross highway 99E and take a look at Willamette Falls, or cross the street going north and take a look at the prominade across the top of the bluff.
This paved sidewalk and park wanders along the top of Oregon City's infamous cliff. From it, it is possible to see much of downtown Oregon City, as well as across the river to West Linn and north as far as the clouds will allow you do see.
There are a number of benches.
A drinking fountain is located inside the Oregon City elevator building, but can only be accessed when the elevator is operating.
The pathway leads from the McLoughlin House (which can be accessed by a pedestrian tunnel under the road) south all the way to Tumwater. A pedestrian bridge allows an additional walk along highway 99E to the observation point above Willamette Falls.
The park is a good location mostly free of normal traffic noise, but the noise and smells of the paper mill is quite strong on the southern end of the prominade.
Some years back, the lawn in front of the old Oregon City Senior Center (now called "community center") hosted an art fair. The artists were *very* local (Oregon City and West Linn for the most part) and the operation was quite informal: at least one artist, having heard of the event, simply showed up halfway through the first day.
Eventually, happened a second time, and eventually it moved to the old Oregon City library grounds.
Today, the event is a far more organized event involving live music, child face painting, and a wide variety of booths including books from the Oregon City library and of course a wide variety of artist works.
Today, the event takes place on the grounds of the End of the Oregon Trail Center near I-205 in Oregon City. It has also developed the name "First City Art Faire" due to the reputation Oregon City has of being one of the oldest cities in the western USA.
The number of visitors has also increased vastly over the original informal event: it may be difficult to find a parking place on Saturday morning.
The Three Rivers Artist Guild used to be one of the main features of the old Carnegie Arts Center, but then that facility closed.
The Three Rivers Artist Guild used to be the primary attraction in the store in the End of the Oregon Trail Center, but then that museum ran short of money, and it temporarily closed.
Therefore, it should not be surprising that the idea of having a monthly arts show thoughout downtown Oregon City would be put forth. After all, that gets the whole community together to create an attraction for all businesses, not just the artists and not just to one particular facility.
You will find indoor and outdoor artists. Many of the artists will be working on an artwork of some sort or another while they are doing their part of the show. Stores that are open and showing art inside will also have a bit of food or wine available.
Various musical groups will also perform on selected wide spots on the sidewalk.
As the name implies, this show is only the first Friday of the month in May, June, July, August and September.
Quite a large number of houses in the Portland area were built in an era when it was popular to copy styles from the mid to late 1800s. While virtually all of the original houses and other buildings from that era in Portland have been lost, that is not the case in Oregon City.
Instead, here in Oregon City many of the houses carry historic signs. Thankfully, many of Oregon City's early houses were preserved. Mostly, this was by accident: Oregon City remained a bit of a backwater for many years after the newer city of Portland was created. The new, big city attracted much of the new development, until much of Oregon City remained much as it always had been.
Unfortunately, since the 1980s, some of this has been lost. The very old mill buildings that were on the property of the paper mill disappeared during rebuilding of the mill complex. Several buildings in downtown Oregon City were demolished to make way for newer structures. Some have burned.
Yet, in the area surrounding the McLoughlin House, there are still quite a number of survivors noted with historic plaques above or beside their front doors. Many of these plaques not only tell the date (or in cases where the date is not documented, at least the approximate date) and the style of the house. Queen Anne is one of the most popular styles, but some later houses are "vernacular" style.
I have never stayed in this hotel, but I lived in Oregon City for approximately 15 years and it is...more
17850 S. Clackamas River Drive, Oregon City, Oregon, 97045, United States
Good for: Couples